The Hustle Is Real: J.R. Smith Bags Six Figure NIL Deal As A Student-Athlete Golfer At North Carolina A&T

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As the NIL deals round out the new landscape for collegiate students, an NBA veteran is getting his collegiate flowers after his professional basketball career.

Former NBA guard J.R. Smith officially has a name, image, and likeness deal as a collegiate athlete. According to reports, Smith has taken his freshman golfer status to new heights while a student at North Carolina A&T.

New NIL Rules

Smith has signed a deal with Excel Sports Management for his NIL representation.

The 36-year-old, who recently began his second semester in college, is now earning endorsement opportunities under the NCAA’s new name, image, and likeness parameters. According to reports, Smith’s agent, Lance Young, revealed that interest for Smith has been significant for NIL opportunities.

Young Again

Although Smith earned over $90M during his NBA career, he is letting the NIL world open for business as a college student. Smith played high school basketball at New Jersey basketball powerhouse Saint Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark.

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He entered the NBA out of high school after being selected in the first round of the 2004 NBA draft. Smith was the 18th overall pick by the New Orleans Hornets.

He has also played for the Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks, and the Zhejiang Golden Bulls of the Chinese Basketball Association. Smith has won two NBA championships, with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 and the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020.

Raining The Bar For Post-Professional Athletes

Smith enrolled at North Carolina A&T State University to pursue a degree in liberal arts. However, he quickly joined the Aggies’ golf team. Now many companies are seeking to take advantage of Smith’s celebrity and unique position as a former professional athlete that is going to college for the first time.

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In addition, Smith is an excellent golfer, holding a -5 handicap. He has taken the collegiate golf world by storm low-key at North Carolina A&T. However, Smith’s fortunate new collegiate circumstances do come with some stipulations.

Under the NCAA’s current NIL rules, Smith can’t promote his sponsors at NCAA-sanctioned events. However, Smith can appear in commercials and reference his NIL affiliations on social media.

Stipulations

Additionally, his NIL agreements cannot include a performance bonus related to his respective sport.

As an NBA player, Smith won NBA titles with the Cavaliers in 2016 and the Lakers in 2020. Smith also seized the Sixth Man of the Year Award during the 2012-13 season with the New York Knicks.

Smith hasn’t played in the NBA since he last dressed for the Lakers during the 2019-20 season, and, technically, he never retired from the NBA.

Changing The Game

However, Smith is the first athlete to leave the league and begin his “post-professional” career at a college during the NIL era. Interestingly, Smith is attending an HBCU when Deion Sanders and more are placing a lot of attention on the HBCU athletics marketplace.

Although most inroads to date have been through football and basketball, Smith’s venture into golf is unique. He joins other NBA players like Steph Curry who have championed golf at HBCUs like Howard University.


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Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.